Apparently Madonna is undignified.
Why a pop star would want to be dignified is a good question, but wearing thigh-high boots and putting out another album has got the pundits tut-tutting. A woman of her age should know better.
There’s a tone to this criticism that wouldn’t enter the equation for Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger or Bob Dylan.
Ageing male rock stars are not immune from criticism but it’s usually affectionate and their “dignity” is not called into question. And age doesn’t seem to detract from their sex appeal much either; if anything it confers a bit of extra street cred – still out there after all these years.
Madonna looks and sounds at least as good if not better than many of her male contemporaries in the same age bracket. You may not like her genre but she has every right to keep doing the stuff that has made her a household name and an extremely wealthy woman.
And it’s easy to forget that she was a pioneer.
Women mega-pop stars didn’t really exist before her, and certainly not stars who so obviously ran their own show in every sense – the current example being Lady Gaga.
A good business brain as well as the essential ability to read the zeitgeist made her an unusually resilient performer and an icon.
Some of the recent criticism of Madonna has honed in on her supposedly unseemly efforts to defy ageing by cosmetic means and obsessive exercise and dieting.
Anyone taken a good look at Jagger lately? A man of nearly 70 certainly doesn’t look like that without some help. Sure, there are plenty of wrinkles but he is very fit and his hair has definitely been chemically enhanced for some years.
Good on him. But why is it so awful when Madonna does her bit (perhaps more than a bit, admittedly) to hold back the years?
It’s her job to be glamorous. You can imagine the commentary if she didn’t make any effort to look good.
But what has got a lot of music and pop culture critics tied up in knots in recent weeks has been something unrelated to the quality of Madonna’s latest CD.
It’s a tussle to acknowledge that a woman over 50 can continue to do her job, which in Madonna’s case means strutting the stage and exhibiting sexuality.
It’s pretty unusual. We don’t even have that many women in the public sphere to start with, and older women are scarce in just about any formal arena, much less pop music.
Meryl Streep is an example of a woman who has sustained her career in a youth-obsessed industry (and if you want to be inspired, make sure you watch her recent tribute to Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit in New York).
It’s also been terrific to see some of the stereotypes about older women challenged in the political sphere by Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF head Christine Lagarde.
The women CEOs of listed Australian companies are in a similar age bracket, but there are hardly any of them (only 3 per cent of the ASX200). Australia doesn’t have a great track record with keeping older women in the fray, although the statistics are improving in line with demographics.
The increasing numbers of women of mature years in jobs will not in itself normalise their participation. That will take some concerted awareness-raising and attitude changing.
The Diversity Council of Australia’s Working for the Future research found that age discrimination was the most common type reported.
At 14 per cent, it was almost twice that of the next most common perceived discrimination, gender (8 per cent) and care-giving responsibilities (8 per cent).
If you combine all three of those discrimination areas, you get a poorer outcome for women, and the older age group in particular.
But if Madonna can stick around, so can we.
Source : FinancialReview